In third grade students begin learning about geography. Topics covered include rivers, mountain ranges, communities and maps. To expand beyond what’s available in their geography textbook, one Hilltop Elementary teacher has started a unique project that she hopes will inspire her students to discover more about the 50 states from people who live there or from people who have visited a memorable location.

Third grade teacher Pam Gatts had her students release a balloon that had a paper seagull attached. Sammy the Seagull is now flying all around the United States and will be sending the students postcards with information about where he has been. As postcards are received from Sammy the Seagull, they will be displayed on a bulletin board, and students will mark a map to show the places he has traveled.

The success of the project depends on the amount of correspondence the students receive. Gatts invites the local community to get involved by writing a postcard themselves or by reaching out to family and friends from around the country to send in postcards. “If you know anyone who lives elsewhere, please ask them to take a few minutes to write a note to our class,” said Gatts. “They can either pretend to be Sammy or they could have just spotted him flying overhead.”  

All someone needs to write is a little bit of information about the area in which they live and give a few interesting facts about their town. Participants can also send a postcard from a vacation spot. The goal is to be able to collect postcards from all around the US. At the end of the year, the students will welcome Sammy back with a party and share what they have learned. 

“I think this is a wonderful way to get students interested in US geography, as well as learn interesting tidbits about other places,” Gatts explained. “Also, please don’t tell your children our secret about Sammy. It will be more exciting and fun for them if Sammy is actually flying around and writing to us.” 

Please address all postcards to: Hilltop 3rd Grade, 2 Ram Drive, Wheeling, WV 26003. Postcards will be accepted through the beginning of April 2020.